The Haymarket Affair

Topics: Samuel Fielden, Haymarket affair, August Spies Pages: 6 (2094 words) Published: May 3, 2013
The Haymarket Affair

For many, America is not just the country they happen to live in but also it is a place of freedoms, liberties and independencies and even a refuge for some people. In 1886 though, a group of people attempted to share their opinion in Haymarket Square, Chicago, which led to a dangerous riot and a series of trials with convictions and executions. Throughout the affair, innocent lives were lost, people were wrongly accused, and the judicial system was revealed as flawed. Throughout the trial, Constitutional rights were overlooked in the name of prejudice and because of fear, just to please the public. The Haymarket Affair involved a violent riot caused by overbearing police officers; it also involved unfair trials which attempted to defend American ideals but instead, all it did was infringe the principle rights in the Constitution. The prominence of the belief in anarchy in the labor movements was prevalent in the prejudice that was made evident in the arrests and trials of the affair. The anarchists of this time thought that the government and its laws were made to tyrannize the working people, and they wanted to get rid of the capitalist system. As for their political movements, anarchists wanted an eight-hour work day, decent housing, an end to child labor, and free public schooling. Including these requests, anarchists gained the trust and respect of laborers because of their support of strikes and unions, their public writings on labor grievances, and their talk of revolution and elimination of bosses. Across the nation, discontent workers agreed to go on strike in demand of an eight-hour work day on May 1, 1886. The tension and excitement caused by the planned strike led to an editorial in the Chicago Mail. The writer of this editorial wrote about two anarchists, Albert Parsons and August Spies, who he called dangerous. He said to, “Hold them personally responsible for any trouble that occur”. The writer of the editorial was accurate about these two men being accused for trouble; however the anticipated commotion happened three days later on May 4, 1886. On this date, an assembly was put together by a leading German anarchist in Chicago’s labor movement, and it took place in Haymarket Square. The purpose of the assembly was to respond to the murder of several laborers the day before, when two hundred police open-fired on strikers in an attempt to gain control of the fighting. In Haymarket Square, by the time the police arrived to impede the rally, about only two hundred people were still in the crowd. At the rally, the speakers only discussed the violence from the previous day, and they did not request workers to fight back with weapons of their own. During one of the leader’s speeches, the police interrupted and asked them to disperse. The speaker responded, “But we are peaceable”. Despite the lack of threat presented, the police asked them to leave yet again. A bomb was then thrown into the crowd of policemen. The bomb-thrower still remains anonymous to this day, but his action resulted in the importance of this gathering. After the homemade bomb was thrown, the police ordered an open-fire on the crowd and pandemonium resulted. Though an accurate death toll is still unknown, two civilians and seven police officers died and about seventy officers and one hundred civilians wounded were said to be wounded. Even though the undercover bomber was unknown, eight anarchists were arrested and blamed for the deaths. During the trial six weeks later, prosecutor Julius Grinell did not accuse any of the men of throwing the bomb. The case against the eight was based on a broad conspiracy theory that charged the anarchists with inspiring the bomber. Along with prosecutor Grinell, the trial involved other faulty aspects such as its biased jury, behavior of judge, and dishonest witnesses. Also, Grinell had chosen jurors that were more likely to believe the anarchists as being guilty. Before being seated,...
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